Dear Nieces and nephews…

I want to thank you…

First to the older ones. (The teenagers because all but one cousin is older). I see you. I see how without asking, you are an extra eye at family parties. I see how helpful you are when I throw her in your arms to hold her in a cousin photo. I see you when your parents ask you to follow Courtney around to give me a break. I see you and I thank you.

To the niece that has come to help me at birthday parties so we can attend. You turn it down when I pay you but the truth is, the little I have given you doesn’t even come close to how much it means to me. I see you and thank you.

But there is a set of cousins I need to give a bigger shout out to. The ones that are closest to my girls ages. First thing first…I see how you are trying to grasp this whole autism thing. I see how you are still trying to grasp why Courtney is different. I see you when she hurts you but you try so hard not to show just how much it hurt. I see how much you want her to interact with you but yet you are ok that she doesn’t. She loves you, I hope you know that.

But then there is your relationship with Alyssa. When it comes to Alyssa, you are so much more than cousins. You are so much more than even playmates. You may not realize it yet, but all of you are like older siblings to Alyssa. The older sibling that Courtney is unable to be for Alyssa. She looks up to you like a younger sibling looks up to an older sibling. You are her role models, her heroes. Just like a younger sister, she can be a pain but yet you still love her. I see this and I can’t thank you enough.

A special shout out to my niece who said to me today, “Aunt Erin, how can I help you with Alyssa?” Riley, you made my day, my week, my month, my year! At the age of 8 you saw your aunt struggling and you rescued me. Words can’t even begin to say how thankful I am.

I thank your parents a lot for always being an extra hand, but all of you are helpful too. Thank you for being the best cousins my girls could ever ask for!

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